Pitahayas

  The fruits of several different cactuses are called pitahayas. The yellow ones in the picture are Hylocereus megalanthus, and the pink ones are Hylocereus undatus. To be honest, I was rather disappointed by the (lack of) flavour of them both. Some time ago I had what I think was a Hylocereus costaricensis, which was deep red all the way through, and much tastier. I wish I had a bigger…

January 7, 2015
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Canary Bell Flower

This is the Canary bellflower, Canarina canariensis, which has no close living relatives. It scrambles over things, like bindweed, with a stem up to 3 m long, and produces these lovely flowers in December. All the examples I’ve found so far this year are in Los Tilos, on the road up to the visitor centre.

December 5, 2014
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Dragon Trees

The north of La Palma is one of the best places to see dragon trees. These exotic-looking plants grow throughout the Canary Islands, and also in Cape Verde, the Azores, Maderia, and western Morocco, but  on La Palma, they’re still reproducing naturally. The Canary Islands used to have a large, flightless bird, something like a Dodo. This bird ate dragon tree fruits, so the seeds evolved to have a hard protective…

October 2, 2014
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Canary Pine Trees

Today I visited Cumbrecita, and I fell in love with Canary pine trees all over again. So many of them look as though they’ve been carefully trained into artistic shapes, like gigantic bonsai trees. So here are a few of my favourites.

September 21, 2014
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New plants in the Caldera

La Palma is very popular with botanists, because there are hundreds of species of plants which grow wild only on La Palma. When three employees of the Caldera National Park went to do a survey on the north slope of Bejenado in the Caldera, the got four nice surprises. The first three are in the Rock Rose family. Helianthemum broussonetii is a bush with white flowers which grows around Los…

August 7, 2014
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Back from the brink

In 1988 the National Parks service performed a census of native species on La Palma and many of the results were horrifying. This plant, a type of Viper’s Bugloss, was down to just 50 specimens. So they started planting them inside rabbit and goat-proof fences. It worked, and there’s lots of them in bloom all around the observatory now. Lunch time for bees, bumblebees and butterflies!

June 15, 2014
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